1957 Parilla 175 Sport and 1962 Parilla 250 GS
Two takes on a single theme
The 1957 Parilla 175cc Sport.
Photo by Robert Smith
Greyhounds are some of the world’s fastest land mammals, capable of sprinting to faster than 45mph. When Giovanni Parrilla (two “r”s, unlike the company name) chose a stylized greyhound for his company logo, he no doubt intended his exquisitely engineered little bikes to be pretty quick, too, as one can see with the 1957 Parilla Sport and 1962 Parilla 250 GS.
The indigenous pup, the Italian Greyhound, is much smaller than the standard breed, however, and its slender bones are notoriously fragile. There are those who would attribute these same characteristics to Moto Parilla motorcycles.
Out of the trap
Giovanni’s company, Moto Parilla, was one of the first Italian motorcycle makers into production after WWII, manufacturing a 250cc racer (and corresponding sports roadster) in 1946. Itinerant engineer Giuseppe Salmaggi (responsible for the Gilera Saturno and Moto Rumi’s racing twins) produced the design to Parrilla’s specification, which was strongly influenced by the most successful racing engine of the day, the Norton Manx. Like Arthur Carroll’s design for the Bracebridge Street boys, Parrilla specified a bevel-drive single overhead camshaft with hairpin valve springs.
The new bike first raced at Lecco in northern Italy in October 1946 with Nino Grieco in the saddle, and was launched at the Milan show in 1947. Arousing particular interest were the huge 10.2-inch drum brakes of the racer (eight inch or smaller was common on small-displacement machines), quickly nicknamed padellone (frying pans).
Like Norton with the Manx, Parilla next produced a DOHC (bialbero) version of its 250cc racer, still using a shaft and bevel gears to drive the camshafts. Salmaggi designed the engine for strength and durability, no doubt with Italy’s long-distance road races in mind, keeping weight down by using magnesium alloy engine castings. The Parilla Bialbero reputedly offered a much wider powerband than other small-capacity racers, attributed to engine development on the track rather than the dynamometer. The Bialbero’s greatest success was probably its 250cc class win in the 1950 Milano-Taranto, the same year a 350cc version was announced. Though rarely outright winners, both bikes placed regularly in road races and helped establish the credibility of the Parilla name.
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